Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Contempo-May Review : When It Happens by Susane Colasanti

In One Line: two teenage souls, looking for Something Real.
Genre: High School Heart Ache
The Gist:
Sara’s pretty certain about what she wants in life. So certain that she sends wishes to the universe in pink heart bubbles. She believes in true love and good grades and the awesome power of wishful thinking. Tobey has been in love with Sara since forever, and when she hooks up with High School Hottie and resident jock douchebag Dave, it motivates him to make some changes in his life to assure both of their happy ever afters.
The Cover:
This is a great cover. And it is definitely miles better than the original US cover:

I’d actually seen this book on the shelves and presumed it was set at an American summer camp or something. Basically that giant tree makes no sense whatsoever. So well done Scholastic UK for devising a cover that looks edgy, cool, and PINK. Because this is essentially a happy, fluffy book and deserves a happy, fluffy cover. My only concern was that my edition came with an ‘explicit’ warning sticker, and I have no idea why. It made me think I was going to get something really juicy and bad (Melvin Burgess or Judy Blume style) but there was nothing actually in the book that suggested to me that a ‘explicit’ sticker was warranted. I mean, yeah, there’s sexytimes talk and everything, but nothing too bad compared to other books out there. 
Why You’ll Love This Book
  • It’s a blatant, happy, soppy love story. Nothing life-changing, but a perfect book for a lazy summer holiday.
  • This is probably the best depiction of what an American High School is really like that I’ve read in ages (as if I’d actually know). And I mean you get a real feel for what school is actually like - the class set-up, the teachers, the lunch hall. There is never a time where I feel like anything is cliched, and the goings on of high school life over the few months the novel is set around is great fun to read. 
  • He-said/she-said chapter alternations! I love this, I love getting to see both sides of the story, and what’s particularly fun about this book is that you get to see what our two heroes think about exactly the same event. It’s amazing to see how they interpret their different situations, and that made it quite a thrill to read at times. 

Why You May Not Love This Book:
  • I like our narrators, I really do, but they just didn’t sound as distinct from each other as they could. And especially with Tobey, we’re constantly told that he is a slacker and a bit of a loser, but I think there is more ‘telling’ than ‘showing’ in this book. I always love a bit of ‘he-said’ ‘she-said’ chapter alternations, but I’m not sure that the personalities of the main characters were enough to have me hooked all the way. 
  • *SPOILER ALERT* The characters get together way earlier than you think they would, which left me wondering what the rest of the book was for. I’m not sure even now. And the actual moment of the characters getting together was a bit lacking on the impact stakes. I was a little bit ‘oh, is that it?!’ 
  • It’s a bit easy. Which is fine if you want a breath of fresh air between heavier reads, but I mean, this is really easy. Regular readers of YA may find this lacking compared to other stuff that’s out there. You might want to give this one to your little sister instead of reading it yourself. 
  • Your copy of the book may or may not come with cheerleaders trilling 'AWESOME!' and 'OPTIMISM!' and 'HAPPILY EVER AFTER!' at you. I did not appreciate mine. 

The Hypersomnia Test:
It didn’t pass. I was on the tube and I thought I should get on with my reading but my eyes were getting heavy, so I put the book down and had a nap on my way into work. To pass the Hypersomnia Test, I must want to read the book more than I want to sleep. And sleep won this time. 
Final Verdict:
My presiding thought when I finished this book was wondering just why Ms Colasanti had written it. There is something missing, some passion, some drive, which makes this book end up feeling like just the echo of a good story. There was nothing quirky or original enough to make it stand out from other books on the scene, and I just couldn’t tell what the point of the novel was. Is it that real true love actually happens for teenagers (I know it does, but this story was a bit too fluffy and simplistic for it to stand out)?, was it that grades are the most important thing of all? Was it that it’s always best to conform to what your teachers and parents think in order to be happy? I want more drama, grit and conflict from my YA. And don’t get me wrong, I love a good fluffy read (as regular blog readers will already know) but I also like my good fluffy reads to be quirky, original, and have a bit of heat and passion. This book just didn’t do it for me. 
Further Reading:
Adorkable by Sarra Manning (read my review HERE!)
When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle (read my review HERE!)
The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen
To buy When It Happens click HERE!!!

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